MODESTO -- The Building Imagination Center, a downtown Modesto venue to promote video and the visual arts, has its grand opening reception Sept. 20.
A joint venture between California State University, Stanislaus, and the Modesto Art Museum, the center includes a classroom that is used for video screenings and classes in video production and editing (many of them free), a professional video editing suite and a visual arts gallery. Its first year is funded by a $170,000 grant from ArtPlace, a collaboration of several foundations and large banks and the National Endowment for the Arts. But organizers hope they will be able to find funding to have the center last much longer.
The center is located in what was a vacant storefront on 1020 J St. next door to the Central California Art Association's Mistlin Art Gallery around the corner from Brenden Theatres. Thursday's reception is timed to fall during downtown Modesto's Third Thursday Art Walk, when several galleries stay open late.
Jessica Gomula-Kruzic, the center's director and an associate professor at CSU Stanislaus, said she hopes to serve the community by helping residents learn and improve video skills that could aid them in their careers.
"Our goal is to attract talent to Modesto and keep talent in Modesto," she said.
During the reception, the center will screen a new short video on homelessness by the center's first filmmaker-in-residence, Christian Hali, and four students from CSU Stanislaus' Video and Time-Based Media program. The center plans to hire a different filmmaker-in-residence each month for 10 months, giving each the task to produce a short documentary on a contemporary local issue in collaboration with a nonprofit organization. Each film will be screened during downtown a Third Thursday Art Walk.
Hali, who lives in Modesto, has a master of fine arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art and has 10 years of production experience with MTV, Nickelodeon and Disney. He also has worked at CSU Stanislaus, Cal Arts and Sony Pictures Media Arts Program. His video centers on a central coast family that was homeless for a time. He hopes the project will start a conversation on homelessness
Hali said he's glad to be a part of the opening of the Building Imagination Center. "I think it's great for the area because I believe its mission is to show alternate forms of time-based video art," he said. "That's an art form in our area that doesn't get a lot of exposure."
Today's reception also features a photography and art show highlighting the work of the late Robert Beharka, a Los Banos architect and associate of Frank Lloyd Wright. The show is part of the Modesto Art Museum's Architecture Festival, which runs through Sunday and includes talks, film showings, tours and an architecture fair.
Bob Barzan, director of the Modesto Art Museum, which will run the Building Imagination Center's art gallery this year, said he is planning a show to be announced on radios from the 1930s through the 1950s. The museum is a partner in the center because it fits in with the museum's Building a Better Modesto program.
"There's a lot of poverty here," Barzan said. "But the poverty I see most is poverty of imagination. We want to give people a whole new way of imagining Modesto's future."
Gomula-Kruzic said the Building Imagination Center grew out of the CSU Stanislaus' Building Imagination Initiative a few years back, which encouraged people to imagine a better future in response to the low quality-of-life rankings in Central Valley towns. Video is a great way to express that imagination because it's the main medium of contemporary culture, she said.
The Building Imagination Center, 1020 J St., hosts its grand opening reception from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 20, with the resident filmmaker documentary screening scheduled at 8 p.m. For details about the center, including workshops, visit www.buildingimagination.com or call (209) 524-7451.
Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan Renner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2313.